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Mary McCoy
Mary McCoy, LMSW is a licensed social worker who works closely with individuals, families, and organizations in crisis. She knows first-hand how financial choices can prevent and mitigate crises, and she's therefore passionate about equipping people with the information they need to make solid financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones. When Mary isn't on her soap box, you can find her hiking, jogging, yoga-ing, or frolicking with her family.

6 Celebrities Who Recovered From Financial Failure Before They Became Famous

By Mary McCoy

madonna, photo by cinemafestivalNothing is quite as American as a good rags-to-riches story, and it’s safe to say that many folks also enjoy the occasional macabre tale of the riches-to-rags variety. But despite all the attention paid to financial failures and cautionary tales, there are many hardworking people who have managed to rebound from the brink of financial disaster and bankruptcy. Some of them are even major celebrities that you’d never associate with monetary mishaps.

Here are several famous people who managed to rebuild their bank accounts after a substantial financial setback. If you’re feeling down about your own situation and need a little pick-me-up, these household names might just put the wind back in your fiscal sails.

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9 Ways Single Parents Can Avoid Financial Hardship After Divorce or Death

By Mary McCoy

single parentThe struggles of single parents are near and dear to my heart. Several years ago, when my daughter was born, I never imagined that I would have to parent by myself. Then, suddenly, I found myself left with all the bills, half the income, and none of the support.

Raising a child on your own is a tall order. It requires tremendous discipline and luck to emerge unscathed, even with a decent stream of income. If the other parent of your children has left the picture – whether through divorce, death, or some other hardship – you likely remember the day you trembled with uncertainty when you saw all that red accumulating on your budget. I know I did.

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9 Best Road Trip Destinations in the USA on a Budget

By Mary McCoy

road tripBack in the early 1990s, when gas prices hovered around an inflation-adjusted average of $2.25 per gallon (according to The Motley Fool), my family took advantage of low fuel prices by going on amazing road trips. The memories I have from those trips are some of the most vivid of my childhood, and I strongly encourage a road trip on any occasion when gas prices dip.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out one of the following locations, particularly the ones that are nearest to your corner of the country. Each of these has ample opportunities for free or low-cost sightseeing and camping. The sights and sounds of American roads will not disappoint your family – and they certainly won’t disappoint your pocketbook.

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10 Simple DIY Landscaping Ideas for Your Home on the Cheap

By Mary McCoy

landscapingAs any seasoned landscaper or gardener can tell you, a home’s landscape is more than just a few haphazardly placed trees and shrubs. It requires careful thought, planning, and research – not to mention hard work. Not only can well-designed landscaping increase the pleasure you derive from your dwelling, it can boost curb appeal if you need to sell your home.

Unfortunately, beautiful landscaping doesn’t usually come cheap. However, with a little planning, you can get a gorgeous outdoor setting with only a small upfront cost.

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Pros & Cons of Owning and Managing Rental Properties

By Mary McCoy

rental propertyThe idea of fuss-free income beckons many people into owning and managing rental properties, such as apartments, duplexes, guest homes, and even large houses. From the outside looking in, it appears that property owners simply sit back and collect rent checks on the first of each month, with little additional work. On paper, it’s a lazy (or savvy) worker’s dream come true.

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How to Get a Mortgage Loan If You’re Self-Employed With Fluctuating Income

By Mary McCoy

home mortgage optionsEven with tighter regulations on property financing, folks with “normal” income from an employer can be approved for a home mortgage loan fairly easily. You simply have to prove that you have steady paychecks, a credit score of 640 or above, and enough money in the bank to cover your down payment.

However, if you’re a business owner or are self-employed, qualifying for property financing isn’t as simple. Regardless of your income, new federal regulations require self-employed individuals to jump through a number of hoops to obtain home loans, which means you may need to think outside the box to find the financing you need.

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How to Be More Grateful and Why It Will Make You Happier – Definition

By Mary McCoy

gratitudeNo matter your background, it’s likely that you’ve experienced a mixture of triumph and hardship in your life. Life is sprinkled with joyous occasions such as weddings and births, as well as heartaches like divorces and deaths. In between the highs and lows, much of the human daily experience is full of the mundane: commuting to and from work, doing the dishes, and shopping for groceries. All of these experiences elicit emotions that range from joy to sorrow to boredom.

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10 Beautiful Home Decorating Ideas for Warm Weather on a Budget

By Mary McCoy

springtimeEach year, at the end of a long, cold winter, millions of Americans breathe a collective sigh of relief with the dawn of spring. For many, warmer temperatures equate to spring cleaning, open windows, fresh breezes, and a blurred line between indoor and outdoor decor.

No matter how you celebrate the arrival of warm weather, make sure you update your home so that you and your family can enjoy the energy and vitality of the turning seasons. You don’t have to spend a fortune with these inexpensive and classic updates that will leave your home looking fresh and bright.

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How to Find the Best Charities to Donate to – 4 Characteristics

By Mary McCoy

charityThe emotional and financial benefits of charitable giving (including tax deductions) are well-documented, but the money and goods you give mean very little unless they produce tangible results. Unfortunately, not all charities serve the public good efficiently. Some even make national news for less-than-noble activities, such as misused funds, overpaid CEOs, and ineffective programs. Potential donors should do thorough research prior to giving their hard-earned dollars to a charity that may be under-performing or ripe for scandal.

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Top 10 Benefits of Charitable Giving and Donations

By Mary McCoy

donateThe fact that charitable giving can help reduce your tax burden is well known, especially if you’re in a high bracket. But the benefits of giving extend far beyond tax breaks.

Of course, giving can be a challenge – especially when money is tight. After all, your income could just as easily go toward a college savings fund for your kids, a much-needed vacation, or even a new pair of shoes. But whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.

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How “Satisficing” Can Save Time and Avoid Problematic Perfectionism

By Mary McCoy

womanNo matter who you are or what you do for a living, you have a limited amount of money, time, and energy in each day. Therefore, on a daily basis, we all have to make decisions about how we use our limited resources to solve our problems and dilemmas.

Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do to maximize your time and resources is to worry less about making the right decisions. Some decisions in life are worth spending a lot of time, money, and emotional energy to come up with the best possible solution for, but the consequences of other decisions aren’t important enough to warrant the same level of effort.

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5 Tips to Succeed as a Freelancer

By Mary McCoy

freelancerFreelancing sounds like the burnt-out worker’s dream come true. Freelancers are able to set their own hours, choose their own jobs, and be their own employers. Unlike some type of fantasy, however, freelancing is indeed very real work that comes with many challenges, in addition to its obvious benefits.

A wise step into freelancing requires a careful self-examination of your personality, strengths, and weaknesses to ensure that self-employment is right for you. Before you take the leap into freelancing, make sure you’ve done your homework so that you can be successful and self-actualized in your endeavors.

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Understanding, Controlling, and Overcoming Your Fears & Phobias

By Mary McCoy

fearWe are all familiar with the pounding heart, heavy breath, and nervous sweat associated with frightening situations. If your brain is functioning properly, fear is a natural instinct that informs you of danger and prepares your body to respond appropriately to a threat.

Sometimes, though, the wiring in highly evolved human brains can malfunction and cause fearful responses when no real threats are present. In turn, inappropriate fear responses can trigger many negative social, emotional, and financial consequences. In order to live responsibly and fully, it’s important to understand the source of your fears, respect your real and perceived threats, and mitigate inappropriate fear responses.

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What Is Co-Parenting – Definition & Tips for Custody Agreement

By Mary McCoy

divorcing with kidsExperts have long recommended happy, stable marriages as the ideal setting for child-rearing. Unfortunately, half of all American marriages continue to end in divorce, and many of these breakups involve children. These statistics don’t even include the relationships between people who never married, but still had kids prior to the dissolution of their romantic partnership.

Whatever your opinion is about the state of American marriages and relationships, it’s hard to argue against the need for consistency, stability, and effective communication between parents for the best possible child outcomes. In terms of child development, research has even indicated that a successful co-parenting partnership between exes is preferred to a two-parent home with ineffective or hostile communication between partners.

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How to Achieve & Reach Your Goals When Challenges Arise

By Mary McCoy

setting goalsIf you’ve ever pursued an ambitious goal, you’ve probably noticed that your resolve starts to wane after about four to six weeks. Even savvy goal-setters run into problems after a month of resolve, but the statistics are worse for those who set nebulous goals for their lives. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted by British psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88% of resolutions end in failure, and that backsliding on resolutions usually begins just a few weeks after the start of the goal.

But you don’t have to let your resolutions and goals fall by the wayside. Before you abandon them in the face of challenges and mistakes, consider redoubling your efforts for successful goal achievement.

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